This Crazy Machine Let Astronauts Experiment With Fluids 30 Years Ago

By Jamie Condliffe on at

It might look more like an engine from an ageing car than a piece of engineering fit for space, but this machine was a pioneering piece of apparatus that allowed astronauts to experiment with fluids in space.

The Fluid Physics Module was hand-built in Italy, and flew on the first ever mission of the European Spacelab in 1983. It allowed astronauts to observe and manipulate up to a litre of liquid whilst in space, observing the effects of microgravity upon it.

Spacelab itself was a small, European-built space laboratory that was aboard the Space Shuttle between 1983 and 1998. According to the ESA, results from that very lab have inspired everything from "space-age metals used in mass-produced smartphones" to "research that shows promise in treating chronic muscle diseases". Not bad, eh? [ESA]

This Crazy Machine Let Astronauts Experiment WIth Fluids 30 Years Ago